Americans have had a growing issue with belly fat. The average American waistline has increased by over an inch since the year 20001. The biggest increase in waist circumference was in young women, African American women in their 30s, and white women in their 40s. Additionally, the average female waistline has grown twice as much as the average male waistline. This can make fitting into your clothes difficult, and can cause serious health risks because belly fat
- Decreases your sensitivity to insulin
- Is worse than other kinds of fats
- Hurts your heart
- Increases your chances for developing breast cancer
Individuals with a large stomach and a high amount of belly fat tend to lose sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone that helps your body burn energy. As you lose sensitivity to insulin, your body starts to produce more to allow your body to react the same. Unfortunately, this only serves to throw the cycle off balance. Because of this, individuals with belly fat are incredibly vulnerable to a set of medical problems known as insulin resistance syndrome. This syndrome is thought to affect over 50 million Americans, and is incredibly serious. Those suffering from insulin resistance syndrome often end up developing type 2 diabetes, tend to have high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol. This combination is a recipe for heart disease and strokes.
Belly Fat versus Other Fat
Fat that is stored in areas like your thighs just sits there, and doesn’t do much that actively harms your body. Belly fat, on the other hand, is considered biologically active. In fact, many experts consider belly fat to act more like an organ. This is because belly fat produces hormones that negatively affect your health. It especially affects hormones that control appetite and metabolism. Belly fat also increases your risk of lung problems, because carrying around extra weight strains your body. In relation to your lungs, the weight of fat on your chest decreases the amount of room allowed for your lungs. Your lungs have to work harder to maintain proper functioning, which can lead to many problems, like COPD and asthma.
In addition to releasing additional hormones, belly fat produces cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that are associated with the immune system. An excess of cytokines causes a constant level of inflammation, which increases your risk for heart disease. Fatty acids released by belly fat are also linked to high levels of bad cholesterol, and low levels of good cholesterol. Unbalanced levels of cholesterol can lead to major heart problems.
Breast Cancer Risks
Being obese or overweight increases your risk for breast cancer in general. This is because body fat encourages the production of estrogen, which helps feed breast cancer cells. Belly fat, in particular, has its own set of risks. Pre-menopausal women with a large waistline are more likely to develop triple negative breast cancer. This is a form of breast cancer that doesn’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors. While this form of breast cancer responds well to adjuvant chemotherapy, it also has a poorer overall prognosis. There are no targeted therapies developed for triple negative breast cancer to prevent re-occurrences of the cancer.
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